Frankie Knuckles

When it comes to DJs, it doesn’t get much more old-school than Frankie Knuckles, who’s known as the Godfather of House. The Chicago pioneer played such an important role in the development of the genre in the late ’70s and ’80s that he was elected into the Dance Music Hall of Fame in 2005, and even had a street named after him in the Windy City. Frankie throws it down Tuesday night at the Vagabond alongside David Morales and at Thursday’s pool party at the Shelborne (if you’re lucky, he’ll give you a taste of his biggest hit, “The Whistle Song”).
What can we expect from your sets?
Well, I guess a lot of me being myself, for those who know me [laughs]. I’ve been working on a whole lot of new music, and I’ve sort of reinvented myself, if you will. Actually, I took the old me, put a little spit and polish in place, and just kind of buffed myself up a little bit. I’m all shiny and new!
Do you want to check out other shows during the week?
I haven’t seen the schedule for who’s doing what, so I’m pretty much gonna play it by ear when I’m down there.
You’ve seen house music from its beginnings through today. What’s the state of the industry now?
Here in the United States, or worldwide? Because it’s a different animal here than anywhere else. House music is strong, and it’s driving and it’s really big business everywhere else in the world. Only here in the U.S. is no one making any money off of house music. No one. The industry here is not recognizing it.
How did you get into dance music in the first place?
It was a very long time ago – ’71, ’72. I was in high school and was offered a job and I needed money. I was playing one day a week, and it just kind of went from there.
What do you think of Miami?
I love Miami – I almost moved there several times. But there were a couple things that kind of turned me off about it, as I watched how South Beach grew out of control, especially around Conference time. And even though I don’t have to live down in South Beach to live in Florida, every time I come down for WMC, by the time I leave I’m just so completely exhausted. And sometimes disgusted from being pushed and shoved, and you can’t walk down the street, and kids are wild and crazy and drunk and throwing up on you, and uhhhh! I mean, granted, it’s only a couple of days out of the year, but I come out of there thinking I don’t have to deal with that.
But it wasn’t so much that as just about when I was about to make a decision to move there and was going to look at real estate, the mayor here in the city, along with President Barack Obama, gave me a street. Named a street after me and stuff. And that would have been a real smack in the face, to leave right after they named a street after me. So I figured I’d stay just a little while longer.


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